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Demeritte's hot bat paces Hickory in rout

Rangers' No. 9 prospect hits two homers, has four in last four games
August 1, 2014

With a single swing Tuesday, Travis Demeritte tied his career high for RBIs. In his next game Thursday, he established a new mark, one that required a bit more work at the plate.

After hitting a grand slam earlier in the week, the Rangers' ninth-ranked prospect went 3-for-5 with two homers, five RBIs and three runs scored as the Class A Hickory Crawdads routed the Savannah Sand Gnats, 10-1, for their fifth straight win.

"I was seeing the ball good," Demeritte said. "I talked with my hitting coach (Bobby Rose) and he kind of gave me some things to look for. I just tried to simplify the game -- see the ball, hit the ball."

The 2013 first-round pick (30th overall) boosted his home run total this season to 23, which leads the South Atlantic League.

"I'm happy that I have 23 down, but I want to round out my game and be more of a consistent hitter," said Demeritte, who is fourth in the league with 126 strikeouts. "I am proud of myself, kind of shocked myself, to have that many -- I definitely wasn't expecting it."

On average, he's going deep once every 13.87 plate appearances, which easily paces the circuit. He also ranks third with a .508 slugging percentage.

Through 91 games, the 19-year-old's other statistics include a .235 average, a .331 on-base percentage, 58 RBIs, 39 walks and four steals in six tries. For the second baseman, there's been a lot to like about his first full season.

"I feel like it's going pretty good," said Demeritte, who played 39 games in the Rookie-level Arizona League a year ago. "It can always be better. I still have some things I want to work on. I'll use the offseason to address those things, but I'm feeling pretty confident and comfortable with the year I'm having. Still got a month left, though."

The Statham, Georgia native homered to left field to lead off the second inning, struck out swinging in the fourth and sixth, hit a run-scoring single to center before crossing the plate in the eighth and roped a three-run homer to left during the ninth.

The performance marked the second multi-homer game of his career. He also went yard twice on April 10 against Asheville, the other game in which he collected four RBIs.

Demeritte has posted a hit in five straight games, during which he is batting .500 (9-for-18) with six extra-base hits -- including four home runs -- and 11 RBIs. Prior to the current hot streak, though, he recorded just one hit in 24 at-bats across seven games.

"I hadn't been doing too well, so to say," he admitted. "But these last couple games have been good for me. I've been taking a more positive approach and getting better pitches to hit and capitalizing."

Hickory starter Tyler Smith (5-3) surrendered one run on three hits during his six-inning outing, whiffing six and walking two. Reliever Ryne Slack got his fifth save after allowing a hit and a walk while fanning four over three scoreless frames.

Savannah starter Logan Taylor (0-3) gave up four runs on five hits and three walks with five strikeouts over six innings.

Mark Emery is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Emery.